[T]he debate about whether to turn inward or to engage with the world has been resurrected by Donald Trump. He insists that he is not an isolationist but he describes US foreign policy in unilateral, transactional terms and has championed “America First” — a phrase originally associated with opposition to Roosevelt’s desire to fight Hitler.
The most prominent spokesman for the 1940s America First Committee, the celebrated aviator Charles Lindbergh, accused Jewish groups of “agitating for war” and was himself accused of being pro-Nazi.
Embracing the phrase “America First” does not in itself indicate fascism, but there is more to the picture than that.
For Lindbergh and Roosevelt, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor changed everything. In 1944 American troops waded through the surf of Normandy’s beaches and into the path of Nazi bullets.
Half a lifetime later, at Pointe du Hoc on the English Channel, Ronald Reagan commemorated their sacrifice with the words: “Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.”
Of course, the United States has not always lived up to its own ideals.
This week marks the 153rd anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre, when US troops murdered and mutilated women and children of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes in Colorado, just one atrocity among many as white Europeans vanquished the native peoples of the New World.
Then a country founded on genocide and slavery covered its ears for shameful ages before it heard Martin Luther King’s insistence that it “make real the promises of democracy” for African Americans. Woodrow Wilson, for one, used fine words but he introduced racist policies too. Even now, that promise of democracy remains only partially fulfilled.
The US has been guilty of bombing civilians, of torture and imprisonment without trial and of subverting the very democracy it professes to hold sacred when it does not like what democracy delivers.
A question comes to mind: did American soldiers fight and die on the beaches of Normandy so their president could promote fascism?
It is an astonishing question, absurd even. To many it may seem offensive even to ask.
But it falls to reporters to describe in plain language what we see, and promotion of fascism and racism is all too easy to observe in the United States of 2017.
Cancer McCain finds himself mavericking once more, all but saying the president of the United States’ ideology shares a lot in common with a certain National Socialist party.
Not so mavericky he outright makes the accusation to a named offender, however.
(Year Zero/Day Two Hundred and Seventy-One)
Like a petulant bully forced to apologize by his parents, Donald Trump belatedly, with feet dragging, singled out white supremacists for the appalling acts of racist terrorism and murder in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend. Trump’s initial tightrope walk of false equivalence was calculated to please neither establishment Republicans nor Democrats, but his true base:
And pleased they were. Trump’s later appeasement of critics within his own party and the press was PR, an action meant to stymie further rebukes after the intended damage had been done.
If you’ve ever been the recipient of a non-apology apology, you know not to accept what he said as sincere. Trump has without fail dithered when presented the initial opportunity to distance himself from white supremacy in his political career, from “I don’t know who David Duke is” to present day. It’s only when the outcry becomes deafening that that the president pretends to distance himself from nazis (and if you’re considering citing Godwin’s law, Mike Godwin calls them nazis too).
For some, Charlottesville gave what communities of color and the greater antifascist movement have been saying all along palpability. Perhaps it took the murder of a white woman to shock the “decent” elements of white America – there’s a long and tiresome history of an assault on white femininity being the bridge too far. Or perhaps seeing Trump’s clear discomfort with calling out nazis made the label of “fascist” fit more snugly on his person.
For others, it drew the focus away from the palace intrigue, the daily embarrassments, the ongoing Mueller investigation and yes, the absurdist comedy to what is happening in our country. White supremacists were emboldened by the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump’s election and every public signal in our culture that implicitly if not explicitly endorses their worldview. If the last few years have shown us anything, it’s that they’re getting bolder. As Jamelle Bouie noted, this is a white power movement showing its strength.
It seems reasonable to counter that the death toll from racially-motivated murders is relatively small. As Jeff Sessions might say if he was sure he wasn’t being recorded, so what? The number of gun-related homicides in Chicago in a month effortlessly eclipses the Hitler Squad’s body count in a year. While true, the numbers aren’t the point. Racial terrorism is. The racially-motivated murders committed by white supremacists are political murders. Their intent is instill fear in non-white and visibly Other Americans, to send the message that they’re not safe, that there’s no equal place for them in society. It’s a chilling message that if they or their white, straight or cis allies stand up for them, they will be dealt with like traitors.
Charlottesville wasn’t the end. It’s the latest signpost on a road that leads to a very dark place.
(Year Zero/Day Two Hundred and Seven)
A damning mountain of evidence points to the ineluctable conclusion that up to five million votes were fraudulently cast in the last general election. This evidence is being held in an unusual location: the addled minds of 45 and his intensely loyal, reality-denying followers.
But these phantasmagorical vote thieves have made some rethink the regular and judicious application of the democratic process. A new Washington Post/Qualtrics poll shows 52% of self-identified Republicans
would support postponing the 2020 election, and 56 percent said they would do so if both Trump and Republicans in Congress proposed this.
The hand is tipped, the fascistic future partially unfurled. There are people who want to shut you up and keep you down. No amount of well-intentioned reach-across-the-aisle gestures will alter their comfort with denying you the right to vote against the man – and the abhorant ideas swirling around him – they cherish.
(Year Zero/Day Two Hundred and Four)